Tag Archives: hair health

May-June GOC Update: Akia (#42)

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Hi Shelli and Fellow GOCers!! It has been a while, so I am going to do both May and June updates.

Hair
At this time, as you can see, I am still twisted up. I am trying to keep my hair in twists for a protective style. But, it does get a little boring, especially since everyone has been wearing these awesome twist-outs and up dos. I haven’t really been sticking to my hair regimen only because, lately, I have just been leaving it alone, while still  being consistent with monthly henna and hibiscus treatments. Also, it has just been way too hot here in Michigan (102 this past week) and my hair has become really thick. So, the less I mess with, it the better.

Health & Fitness
My fitness goals have been coming along okay. I am still doing Pilates and cardio, but messed around and got a summer cold, which caused me to miss a couple of sessions. I have also been eating more fast food than I like and drinking less water : (. So, overall, everything is okay with my challenge, but I know that I can do better. It  has just been kind of tough with the hot summer, work, school, yard work, mother, wife, head cold and everything else in between. So, I guess the next up date will be a re-vamp of my regimen. In the meantime, keep growing fellow GOCers!!! : )

See Akia’s other GOC-The Sequel posts here:
Initial Submission
April Update

Can I Over-Condition?

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Back in the day … like 2 years ago ;), you couldn’t tell me that there was such a thing as over-conditioning. As a 12 year natural, the first thing that I would tell anyone transitioning, newly natural or interested in natural was, “Condition, condition and condition again! There is no such thing as over-conditioning!” Well, to tell you the truth, I still pretty much stand by that statement. Buuuuutttttt, here’s the thing. That’s because I think the term “over-conditioned” is a bit of a misnomer. I think most of us, when we are seeking an answer to that question, want to know whether we can over-moisturize our hair. And the answer to that is yes … a fact that I learned the hard way.

via The Science of Black Hair

Out in the “real world” overconditioning, or “tipping too far” on the moisture side of the protein/moisture balance, is virtually rare …

The problem of overconditioning seems to arise once the individual has been indoctrinated into all things hair. By now, she has figured out which products are protein-based and which are more moisture leaning-and here, the tendency to over moisturize tends to develop. She develops an aversion to protein and throws all of her resources into achieving a perpetual “moisture high.” The proliferation of true “protein overload” stories may have gotten her to this point! She knows that there is a gentle, often tricky balance to maintain but she puts all of her eggs in her moisturizing basket just to be safe. She may even realize that different proteins have different properties, and some actually improve the hair’s elasticity rather than toughen the strands-but she’s not taking any chances with protein period. This aversion causes her to moisturize and overcondition her hair until the cows come home.

“Protein-Sensitivity”
In 2010, I discovered the term, “protein sensitivity” and thought that I’d finally diagnosed the problem that I had with many products formulated for black/”ethnic” hair. These products, especially the conditioners, most often made my hair hard when wet and brittle and hay-like once dry. So, when I discovered that this was because they contained protein, I started to avoid anything with protein like the plague. Instead, I began using henna as my strengthening treatment. However, an over-zealous henna routine (i.e. multiple full-length treatments in a short period of time) resulted in significant curl-loosening.

Therefore, in 2011, I started doing roots only treatments of henna, for color and strength without the resultant curl-loosening. But, I didn’t incorporate anything else to strengthen the length of my strands. By October 2011, my hair felt incredibly soft, but it was also flyaway, snagged at the slightest touch and was shedding (and probably breaking) like crazy. Every time I touched my hair, strands were littering my hands. At this point, I realized that I had omitted an important part of my regimen: strength. I began researching protein and revisited it after learning how to use it the right way (see this post for deets).

Revisiting Protein – ApHogee
After my first ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor, I saw an IMMEDIATE difference in the feel of my hair … it was harder, but hard-strong, not dry or brittle … and my shedding/breakage drastically decreased. So, I was a convert and began to incorporate protein into my regimen more regularly, typically every 3-4 weeks.

Then, in February, I tried my first (and thus far, only) heavy-duty ApHogee Two Step Protein Treatment. It went well and I would have done more, except that I didn’t have the proper bonnet dryer to safely and efficiently dry the first step.

Enter Aubrey Organics GPB
Back in May, I decided to try Aubrey GPB (Glycogen Protein Balancing) Conditioner for the first time. Something happened that I haven’t seen in a long, long, looooooong time … my shed hair was curly!!! That’s right. I’m a natural with curly/wavy hair who is telling you that I couldn’t remember the last time that I’d seen curly shed hair … maybe a year or two? My strands just seemed wavy and some were essentailly straight. But, after my first GPB treatment, I looked at my shower stall and, to my surprise, saw curly strands for the first time in ages! And, I got excited!! Every wash session with Aubrey GPB, the amount of curly strands seem to increase! This past Saturday, after my haircut, I had a shed hair that was a complete, collapsed coil and I ran into the living room to show Wei! I told him, “I know that this seems silly, but I’m so excited because my curls are back!! It’s a coil!!”

Towards the middle/bottom left, you see those straightish
strands that I was used to seeing.

Now, this isn’t an entirely fair comparison, but I had to show you a pic of my “curls” (i.e. waves) in February and my curls (i.e. CURLS! *lol*) now. The reason the comparison isn’t really fair is because I got a haircut last week to get rid of my henna-loosened ends and my hair is freshly washed after being straight for 2 weeks in the pic on the left whereas, in the pic on the right, it is 7 days old and shrunken.

“Over-Conditioning”
So, what’s my point in all of this? First, I wanted to clarify the term over-conditioned, because I think that most of us call both moisturizing and protein-based post-wash treatments “conditioners.” Therefore, when I say that “over-conditioned” is somewhat of a misnomer, it is because I think that most of us are really referring to over-moisturizing the hair and not using too much protein. We tend to refer to the latter as “protein overload.” Second, we can dip too far to either side and the key is to give our hair what it needs when it needs it. Sometimes it’s moisture, sometimes it’s strength/protein. So, how do you know what your hair needs? It’s all about elasticity.

  • Take a few strands of shed hair and hold one set of ends in the fingertips of one hand. Then lightly tug and release the other ends with your other fingers.
  • Does your hair stretch and stay there (i.e. it doesn’t shrink back like a spring)? Then you probably need protein.
  • Does your normally curly hair appear limp and curl-less? Then you probably need protein.
  • Does your hair snap/break immediately or quickly? Then you probably need moisture.
  • Does your hair stretch, then spring back? Sounds like you have the perfect balance of protein and moisture!

The above is nothing new and you’ve probably read it before. So, what I hope to add to the conversation is what I think that I’ve learned.

  • One, the fact that my shed hair no longer had any curl was an indicator that something was off. Though a variety of factors can contribute to this, over-moisturizing should have been one of the “Usual Suspects.”
  • Second, Aubrey GPB restored the curl that I thought had somehow been lost. That says to me that not all proteins are created equal for all people. Though my shedding/breakage decreased drastically with the ApHogee 2 Minute Reconstructor and the 2 Step Treatment, my shed hair still had little to no curl. However, with the introduction of Aubrey GPB, my curls are springing back to life and elasticity is returning in leaps and bounds.

So, all this to say, if you have avoided protein and your strands have become limp and lifeless and your curls have seemed to all but disappear, you may want to try experimenting with different types of protein. However, remember, just as “over-moisturizing/conditioning” is a real thing, so is protein-overload. And, it’s easier to correct over-moisturized hair than hair with too much protein. So, do your research, proceed with caution and always listen to your hair!

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How do you know when you need moisture or protein? Have you experimented with protein treatments/conditioners/reconstructors? Which one(s) have you found work(s) the best for you?

May GOC Update: Adrienne (#4)

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by Adrienne of Natural Embrace

Hair
Is May over already? It went by so fast! I can’t even remember what I was doing to my hair. I know I played around with Curlformers once or twice, plus a braid out here and there, and kept my hair in mini-twists for two weeks which definitely led to a lot of growth/retention. I told myself that I would keep them in longer, but I’m going on vacation to the beach and I’m afraid of sand sticking in my hair if I keep it twisted.

When I get back from vacation, I have a blowout and trim planned for the day after my birthday. I’ll either have my cousin do some kind of braided or two strand twist updo for me, since she’s really good at braiding. Heck, I might even get her to do some kinky twists for me or maybe even just mini-twists again. I know my hair does best when twisted up and left alone (even though I love the ease and simplicity of a wash and go … but they usually lead to single strand knots). But, I get sooooo bored rocking the same style for days and days, that it’s really hard for me to stick with what my hair needs for growth and retention. I love braid outs and twist outs, but those styles don’t last long if I’m working out consistently. I sweat away all of the definition and have to start over that evening by re-twisting or braiding and that just feels like too much manipulation.

Other than that, I’ve been doing very well at applying my Jamaican Black Castor Oil to my edges and I think it’s helping a little with the thin areas. I’ve also continued to pre-poo/deep condition before my
Mudwash and my hair is staying moisturized so much longer now. I’m going to stick with it. As of June, I started taking the Viviscal vitamins so…we’ll see how that goes. I have a wedding to attend at the end of July and I really want to see some length by then. So, I really want to go into a protective style, which can last anywhere from two to four weeks, after my trim on the 22nd. But, like I said, long-term styles drive me crazy after a week. Plus, I like to steam with my pre-poo every week so … I  gotta find a style that allows me to do that.

Health & Fitness
As for working out, I’ve recently started playing tennis on the weekends with the SO and it’s been a lot of fun! We are getting a great workout in without it feeling like … work. It’s been my main form of cardio lately. Other than that, I haven’t been working out very diligently … nor have I been eating very well. As a gal that already works twelve hour days, I tacked on a few extra hours to make up for the time I’m missing on my vacation … so, really, I’ve been too exhausted to work out. And, when I’m tired, I start to get signs of a cold … so yeah, my 1.5 hours of free time between jobs has been spent taking power naps. But I do walk 30 minutes every day and I do a lot of moving around at work, so it’s not like I’m being a total sloth.

Check out Adrienne’s other GOC-The Sequel posts here:

Initial Submission
April Update

Sunflower Oil for Hair

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If you remember, as part of my GOC regimen, I indicated that I would start oiling my scalp with sunflower oil. This was because I went to a salon where the stylist recommended sunflower oil to reduce shedding. After some research, I found information that indicated that sunflower oil is a nice light oil for those with oily hair or fine hair that is easily weighed down (see articles here and here). However, I didn’t find anything to support that the topical application of this oil to the scalp reduces shedding or thickens hair. I did find that taking a teaspoon a day orally might provide these benefits though.

via LiveStrong.com

Nutrition

Sunflower oil contains gamma linolenic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid. Such fatty acids are essential to hair health, says Spencer David Kobren in his book, “The Truth About Women’s Hair Loss: What Really Works for Treating and Preventing Thinning Hair.” GLA also is effective in preventing hair loss from male and female pattern baldness as well as alopecia areata, which causes round patches of lost hair. Just 1 tsp. a day is all that’s needed, Kobren says.

In regard to topical hair application, I located a study that compared the protein retaining and hair strengthening properties of coconut oil to sunflower and mineral oils.

via NCBI.com

The findings clearly indicate the strong impact that coconut oil application has to hair as compared to application of both sunflower and mineral oils. Among three oils, coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. Both sunflower and mineral oils do not help at all in reducing the protein loss from hair. This difference in results could arise from the composition of each of these oils. Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft. Mineral oil, being a hydrocarbon, has no affinity for proteins and therefore is not able to penetrate and yield better results. In the case of sunflower oil, although it is a triglyceride of linoleic acid, because of its bulky structure due to the presence of double bonds, it does not penetrate the fiber, consequently resulting in no favorable impact on protein loss.

After reading this information, I have decided that:

  • I will not use sunflower oil on my scalp.
  • May occasionally use it on my hair post-wash.
  • I will continue to use Vatika oil, which is primarily coconut oil, for pre-pooing.
  • I may start incorporating a teaspoon of sunflower oil a day into my diet (i.e. on salad).

So, what will I use on my scalp? I have decided to use Wild Growth Hair Oil (WHGO). Stay tuned for more on my research on that ;))!!

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Do you use sunflower oil for your hair and/or scalp? If so, how and what has been your experience with it?

My Staples: Virgin Coconut Oil/Vatika Oil

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So, I thought you all might be interested in a series of posts about my staple and Holy Grail (HG) products. I figured I’d go through the items in the order that I use them on wash day as that provides a pretty logical sequence.

Let’s begin with my pre-poo staple(s): virgin coconut oil (VCO) and Dabur Vatika Enhanced Coconut Hair Oil. If you read my post on Mineral Oil v. Coconut Oil and the linked article from NaturallyCurly.com, you know about the many benefits of virgin coconut oil for hair. Although I’ve been using Dabur Vatika Hair Fall Control Styling Cream as of late, I always have VCO and Vatika Oil in the cabinets and will return to them. In fact, as I write this post, I have had a Vatika Oil pre-poo in my hair for two days (thank goodness for banana clip buns and flowers;-).

I began incorporating pre-poos into my regimen last November after seeing this post on CurlyNikki.com and the accompanying video by Youtuber whatgetsonmytits below (I feel funny writing that, but have to give her credit!!).

The information that indicated that coconut oil is the only oil that actually penetrates the hair cortex and can moisturize hair from the inside out, as well as the scientific evidence supporting its ability to prevent hygral fatigue, were all it took to sell me. I hit the grocery store and got myself some VCO and started pre-pooing my very next wash day.

After some additional research on various site, such as Mop Top Maven, and spending time in my local Indian grocer’s hair products aisle looking at henna (PJ heaven, I tell ya!), I also learned of Dabur Vatika Oil. This is what Amazon.com has to say about this product:

  • Premium coconut hair oil enriched with henna, amla, lemon and five other trusted herbs
  • Provides natural nourishment to your hair, giving it body and radiance, taking care of the critical balance of nutrients
  • Ensures deeper oil penetration to give your hair and scalp complete nourishment for problem free, healthy hair
  • Strengthens the roots of your hair, to help maintain their health and natural thickness
  • Astringent action of lemon controls sebum flow helping to prevent dandruff

Turns out that not only does Vatika oil claim coconut oil as its first ingredient, it’s significantly cheaper than the VCO I was purchasing at my local grocery store. I am able to get 10.14 fl. oz. (or 300 mL) of Vatika oil for $3.99 at my local Indian grocer, whereas a 14 oz. bottle of VCO costs me more than $10 a jar. Don’t get me wrong, I still purchase VCO (the SO uses it on his skin;). However, the Vatika oil is a more cost-effective alternative for my pre-poos where I use a decent amount of product. I save the VCO for my SO and for adding to my DCs. Since I’ve incorporated pre-poos into my routine, I’m able to do some light, dry finger-detangling prior to my shampoo and conditioning session. I would have never imagined trying a dry detangle prior to this (though detangling a stretched TnC is far easier than detangling a WnG). However, given that hair is at its most fragile when it’s wet, I welcomed the idea of doing some of the “heavy lifting” on dry hair in order to reduce mechanical damage. Another effect that I attribute to coconut oil is shinier and more moisturized hair. I generally find that I don’t need to rewet my hair during the week (though I do tend to apply some product(s) – oil, butter and/or gel – 1 or 2 times during the week).

One thing I will advise is that though my hair LOVES coconut oil for pre-poos and added to my DCs, it hates it for sealing. They start out playing nice, but a fight inevitably breaks out the next day and my ends are left dry and crunchy. A lot of people seem to experience the same altercation! So, that is something that you should keep in mind when using coconut oil. It may be good for one thing, but not for another and you should pay attention to your hair’s reaction to products, even the same product, when used in different ways.

Tips:
  1. Coconut/Vatika oil is solid at normal room temperatures and should be melted in its closed container under or submerged in hot water (not the microwave). If it’s kept in a warmer location (like my condo during the summer – I hate AC!), it will liquify.
  2. Pour an inch or two of melted coconut/Vatika oil into a dye applicator bottle for easier melting and convenience of application.

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Have you tried pre-pooing? What type of oil(s) and/or conditioner(s) do you use and what results have you experienced, if any? Would you recommend pre-pooing as a regimen building block?